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This is what should be the first of a series of chronicles of my foray in Democratic politics. I want to share these experiences, because I think it is important for folks to understand the difference that can be made by actually getting into the Party, and mixing it up.

DKos is about more and better Democrats. I hope that I can inspire some of our community to make the commitment to the party. It is has been instantly rewarding for me, as we'll see below the fold.

Part I: Noob

I've become increasingly interested in state politics over the last 5 years or so, in my adopted state of North Carolina. I live out in the Western Mountains, in beautiful and progressive Asheville. Some folks may be aware of the hardcore Conservatism now running rampant in Raleigh. Let's just say it's pretty bad, and the usual stuff: anti-LGBT rights, voting rights restrictions, privatization of public resources. You know, the ALEC playbook.

I started attending my precinct meetings in 2009, and took the mostly ceremonial position of Secretary. My precinct, Buncombe 15.1, is considered to be one of the more liberal and steadfast precincts in the county. I was a proud member of the leadership, even if it was a nominal position.

This year, our Chair, Lew, was promoted to overseeing the cluster. With the chair open, I figured it was time for me to step it up and start working harder for the party. I hope that some of you reading this will make the same choice.

Here's where the plot thickens. The meeting where I accepted the Chair was March 1st, 2014. Five days later, NC Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt passed away.

Martin Nesbitt, NC Senate 49
News Observer Announcement

Martin was a great Democrat, fighting for the poor, and for education throughout his long career in the NC Assembly. Because the Senator was a Democrat from the 49th District, mostly Asheville, the Democratic Party has the right to appoint a replacement. Precinct Chairs and Vice-Chairs, party leadership, and elected Democrats will be voting on Thursday, April 4th, to choose Martin's successor. This totals to about 180 votes.

Since I'm now a Chair, I will have one of about 180 votes for who will be an NC Senator! It's a responsibility I'm not taking lightly.

At the moment, six Democrats have stepped up and are seeking nominations and seconds at the voting on Thursday. They are (in alphabetical order):

Veronika Gunter - campaign co-ordinator for many Asheville Democrats
Charlie Owen - local Entrepreneur, with strong family history in the area
Terry van Duyn - activist for the poor and disadvantaged
Aixa Wilson - former candidate for City Council, and decorated Veteran
Michelle Pace Wood - activist for education and agricultural issues
Keith Young - activist for education and minorities

(The summary above is not meant to be all inclusive. I apologize in advance if I've omitted some notable work from this brief listing.)

I've personally met with 4 of the 6 candidates, and spoken with another by telephone. I think it is important that I shake these people's hands, and try to get their measure. The good news is that it is proving to be a very difficult choice. These are 6 great people who work their tails off for others. These are 6 good Democrats.

Just a little bit more before I sign off for Part I.

Right now, Democrats are a super-minority in the NC Senate. The person appointed to this seat will be a freshman, with little leverage. However, Buncombe County is a Democratic stronghold, so the likelihood is that the appointee will neither be primaried nor lose in a general in the near future. This vote is possibly seating someone in the NC Senate for 20 or more years.

Exciting times for a new Precinct Chair!

Originally posted to Noob Party Hack on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Asheville.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I look forward to the next installment (14+ / 0-)

    in what looks like a wonderful insider view!  More of us need to get involved, and locally is the place to begin - I hope your series will encourage that.

    "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." - United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (Republican) -8.12, -5.18

    by ncarolinagirl on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:10:50 AM PDT

  •  I checked the twitter handles last night for (6+ / 0-)

    the NC Democratic Party, the NC Dem House Caucus, and
    The Democratic Senate Caucus.

    The three groups tweeted a combined total of
    12 times during the month of March

    (During the month of March there were major legislative hearings on Obamacare,  environmental concerns, and "Read to Achieve")

    I made 10 tweets just this morning.

    Don't expect much help from the  NC State Party on messaging.

  •  The Importance of This Can't Be Over Emphasized (13+ / 0-)

    Thom Hartmann is about the only progressive voice I can think of who emphasizes the urgency of getting lots and lots of progressives to not only run for entry level offices themselves, but for others like you to join party organizations to get a say in issues, policy planks, candidate choices and especially campaign and GOTV activity.

    The rightwing would never have gotten anywhere if they'd stuck only with what much of our justifiably disgruntled left does, which is to vote for the more progressive candidates in primaries.

    That's exercising a voice all right but it's completely passive, and it can only work when the society and party are more progressive than government so as to be generating more progressive issues and candidates.

    Today we're in the opposite circumstance, a mirror of the rightwing's situation in the mid 1960's when Ike characterized wingers like the Hunt brothers who would dismantle Social Security as few and "stupid."

    The right advanced by turning politics into a participatory sport, and that's what the left needs to do in order to create those better Democrats for the people to support. The party is never going to do that for us, at any foreseeable time.

    Good luck with your efforts and I hope you'll keep posting your series even if it seems weakly supported. If you're getting few eyes at one point in the week, consider a republishing at some other time when a different set of eyes and activity level might increase your reach.

    You never know where some encouraging and supportive information might help put an issue or candidate into a trajectory that could grow into a movement later.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 05:53:47 AM PDT

  •  good for you! thank you! (7+ / 0-)

    awesome problem to have- so many good candidates from which to choose. alot of my local dems would be happier in the republican party. very frustrating working with these politicians.

    thank you for buliding the party. are you going to NN14?

    can't wait to read your next diary. xoxo

    Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy. -Dr. Brene Brown

    by thankgodforairamerica on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:06:40 AM PDT

  •  Cheers for getting involved! (8+ / 0-)

    I, too, am now getting involved in my local politics. A few weeks ago, my State(CO) had our local caucus. I live in a rural area as well as a red area. My Precinct has roughly 400 Democrats(I was gobsmacked--I figured more like 40 Dems...)--and I was the only person from my Precinct to show up!!
    That lit a fire under my butt, and I am now my Precinct's Captain. I have until November to make contact with all my Precinct's Dem's & get their butts to the polls(well,...get them to be sure they're still on the voter rolls--we vote by mail here). Scott Gessler, our Sec of State in CO, purged nearly 1/3 of our voters in my County...

    I've learned voting is simply not enough. I don't need to run for office to make a big difference--just my getting other voters to vote will swing things a great deal in my County, and my County's votes will impact the State totals.

    "Fired up & ready to go" here in Colorado!

    The better I know people, the more I like my dog.

    by Thinking Fella on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:29:56 AM PDT

    •  I read most of your comment before realizing (5+ / 0-)

      it was you.

      Good for you Thinking Fella.

      Look at it this way. Every vote that you get, that wouldn't have voted otherwise, is doubling your vote. Politicians pay a heck of a lot of money to get one vote in elections, you are getting many votes,,, for free.

      Keep your ears open also for the Bannock Street project from Senator Bennett. It's supposed to be an interactive and very modern tool to help us micro target likely Dem voters and get them to vote. Your phone and your computer might be your most effective tools.

      And thanks.

      “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

      by ban nock on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 07:34:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have been Precinct Chair in a red (5+ / 0-)

      precinct in Durham County, NC since 2004 (I think)--time flies when you are having fun. (snark) We need 5 people to have a quorum to keep organized and every year it is pulling teeth to get those 5 bodies. The state party has been a mess for several years and Democrats themselves are divided. Every year I think about throwing in the towel but I don't because our little rural area would lose its voice in the mostly urban county. It is nice to have someone join the ranks who has some optimism because we are sorely in need of that.

      Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

      by Marihilda on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 07:45:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey,I'm in the same boat! (0+ / 0-)

      I'm precinct chair 15 in Delta county which is as red as you could ever imagine.We're out registered 2 to 1 by Republicans and the sect that is in control of the local GOP is the hard line Tea people that are really on the libertarian/patriot bandwagon.We are completely surrounded by low information voters whose ignorance is only exceeded by their tribal adherence to the conservative Republican mantra.These folks who get their political information from FOX,and even worse,talk (hate) radio (Glen Beck is a big favorite),are incapable of envisioning,much less being able to discuss any political or economic scenario beyond the narrow authoritarian scope of their cultist dogma.Our only chance to turn this around is a two pronged attack on the status quo,first,we need to promote candidates with a populist message that will connect with voters.These people voted for FDR and LBJ,if we had Democratic candidates that stood for those same issues important to working people,we'd get them back.The second is a massive voter registration effort.the Hispanic community is completely disengaged with electoral politics in my area and they are not alone in that regard.We need to devote serious resources to a combination voter registration/healthcare enrollment drive that would educate,energize,and strengthen our communities.We need the help of the state Party for that and it has not been forthcoming.I'll be hammering on that at the assembly in Denver this weekend.Are you a delegate too?Let me know what you think and please share your ideas for turning red county Colorado around.I know so many people are hurting economically and they can see that the GOP is only in it for the rich ,so we have an opportunity to finally get some of these lemmings to start questioning their allegiance to a GOP that is totally screwing them over.Get in touch!

      'The tyranny of the ignoramuses is absolute and inescapable' A.Einstein

  •  i love this! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, cultjake, AJayne

    me too, kind of.  different path.

    i walked into Drinking Liberally last fall - i go about every other week. ended up meeting half the lege chairs in the city, along with other assorted folks in the dem party here.  

    i am an vice precinct chair & newly minted delegate to state convention.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:34:18 AM PDT

  •  Great diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, cultjake, AJayne

    Can't wait to read more!  I do agree that local politics is where it's at.

  •  I cannot emphasize the importance of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, cultjake, AJayne

    social messaging- Facebook, Twitter, hashtags to counter the the other side's message machine. In fact, the Koch brothers are spending millions on local legislative races across the country.  

     If you haven't yet, you should check out UniteBlue
    where you can "meet" up with 1000's of other
    state activists on Twitter.

    I have found the GOP in NC to be incredibly arrogant.
    They simply dismiss arguments that are not backed with corporate money. They treat Democratic legislators with derision and scorn during debates. They know they can get away with anything. Because there is no State Democratic messaging apparatus, it is left to private groups to get the word out.

    The GOP's arrogance will be their undoing. It's our job to make it happen.

  •  So, a noob question here: (0+ / 0-)

    What if your precinct is unorganized? How do you get it rolling?

    I just checked and there's nothing. They did have an annual meeting listed, but it happened more than a month ago.

    There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

    by cbabob on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:00:07 AM PDT

  •  What a wonderful diary! (0+ / 0-)

    Holy cow. Please come to the May 3rd meet up at the By Water! Please?

    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 04:33:56 PM PDT

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